Occurred to me that some office-based private for-profit companies offer the opportunity of sabbatical periods to their staff.

Do most higher education institutions offer sabbatical periods for administrative / support staff?

Is the concept of sabbatical for support staff as well as for academic staff featured in your institution's HR policies as a matter of course ?

So here sabbatical is not about period off teaching and service duties for academic staff to focus 100% on research.

Sabbatical period would mean paid leave from one's usual role to achieve something different, like creating a business, or developing something innovative, to pursue one's creative talent.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is explicitly a polling question, and as such is off topic. I think the topic is of interest, however: can you adjust it to not be a poll?
    – jakebeal
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:37
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    There you go, I made it not a polling question. It is probably still a little roblematic, as it is going to depend on country, a lot. I suspect. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:45
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    Thanks a lot, Oxinabox. I agree, it's going to depend on country a lot. Which question does not depend on country? It's the nature of the beast, right? Question is asked with UK in mind, but international input very welcome.
    – G-E
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 10:47
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    My experience at US universities is that sabbatical is granted only to tenured faculty and never to non-academic staff. Faculty in administrative roles (e.g. deans) are in a gray area but usually don't get sabbatical. But I'm not sure what evidence I could offer that this is "common". Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 12:04
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    I don't understand how would you intend a sabbatical for administrative staff. In my country, I'm allowed to take a sabbatical to do research in another university, devoided of teaching duties, not to go on vacation. What do you expect an administrative staff member to do on sabbatical? Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:54

3 Answers 3


In general sabbatical means something different for academic staff and support staff. See for example this question of mine.

Harvard does not appear to offer a paid sabbatical for non-academic staff, but does offer an unpaid sabbatical:

Long term leaves of at least three months and up to one year are available to any employee with five or more years of prior service to the University . Such leave will not be unreasonably denied.

This type of leave is intended to give employees the opportunity to explore or expand interests related or unrelated to their present work at the University with the assumption that they will return to employment at the University

MIT does not appear to offer a paid sabbatical for non-academic staff and there rules for unpaid leave are more rigid than Harvard. Similarly, BU only offers an unpaid sabbatical for non-academic staff. All non-academic staff appear eligible, but it can only be up to 3 months in duration.

Based on this non random sampling, I would conclude that paid sabbatical for non-academic staff is rare, if not non-existent, while unpaid sabbatical would be quite common.


Large Land-Grant University in the U.S.:

Applications for professional leaves will be considered only from faculty members on permanent appointment (academic or annual) who have completed at least five years of active service for $UNIVERSITY at the time the leave is to be effective.

Another university in the state has a very similar policy. Beyond that, I have never heard of staff taking sabbatical leave. Occasionally going for professional development, etc. but not for that length of time.


In general:
Staff get things like holidays, vacation, and sometimes sick leave. Staff can take time via things like (in the US) the FMLA.

Faculty do not get vacation nor sick leave. Sometimes they can take a term off (unpaid)

Permanent, FT, full-professor, tenured faculty can APPLY after X years, often for a research (and paid) sabbatical.

Another thing faculty will do for each other is sub. In general faculty sub for each other as a nice favor to do, sometimes with the anticipation that someone will sub for them when they need it. I've seen in extenuating circumstances a faculty member subbing for an entire term to help out. I've even seen where several faculty will each take one entire course for an entire term where a long-term faculty was in the hospital and recovery - so that the recovering faculty would not need to come teach, and would get their full pay for the term. Staff can't do that.

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    "Faculty do not get vacation nor sick leave". The general validity of this statement can be questionable, or at least it depends on the interpretation that you want to give to it. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 21:47
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    It's also my experience that faculty in the US don't accrue sick leave and vacation as staff do. Faculty who become administrators are typically put on 12 month contracts that do include accrued sick leave and vacation time (e.g. 4 weeks per year of vacation.) As a faculty member, I can take more vacation time then my adminstrative coworkers if I want to, but I have to take that vacation in between semesters and over the summer. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 0:59
  • @MassimoOrtolano, based on the common definitions used. There really isn't much interpretation of vacation or sick leave (at least not in the US) at a job.
    – MikeP
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 16:36

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